“What Will Happen on October 12th?” by Dino Buzzati Summary

What Will Happen on October 12th? Dino Buzzati Summary
“What Will Happen on October 12th?” Summary

“What Will Happen on October 12th?” is a short story by Dino Buzzati that can be found in his collection Restless Nights: Selected Stories. It’s about a professor who will spend a quiet evening at home in front of his fireplace with a book. In this ordinary situation there will arise a remarkable coincidence that could have extreme consequences for humanity. Here’s a summary of “What Will Happen on October 12th?”

“What Will Happen on October 12th?” Summary

Next October 12th in a province of Friuli, Italy, the sun will set on a chilly evening. The land will be peaceful and quiet. Luigi Splitteri, a professor of Italian legal history on summer vacation, will sit in front of his fireplace with a book. A fly will keep landing on him and he will keep brushing it away in annoyance. Splitteri will roll up a magazine and hold it ready to hit the fly as he continues reading.

Each atom is actually an infinitely small planetary system. At the tip of the fly’s right leg, there’s an atom whose solar system contains a planet just like Earth, inhabited by people just like us. Professor Splitteri’s planet could also be part of an atom on a larger universe, as could that one, and so on until the size of the universe is inexpressible.

In Professor Splitteri’s living room, an unprecedented event will occur. Many scientists believe that there are tens of thousands of planets with beings identical to or similar to humans. This is not the case. Earth-like conditions could produce any number of different creatures other than humans. Humans are an evolutionary anomaly, being weak and unhappy but very intelligent. Their existence was a mistake.

This unlikely phenomenon occurred a second time; there’s another planet occupied by humans and it exists in an atom on the fly’s right leg. On planet “A”, Splitteri’s Earth, time passes much slower than on the microscopic planet “Z”, on the fly.

On the evening of next October 12th, a remarkable coincidence will occur. The only two planets with human life will be in the same place, and their levels of evolution will correspond exactly. Both societies have the same technology, fears and struggles. Moreover, planet “Z” also has a Professor Splitteri being annoyed in his home by a fly.

Due to the temporal difference, the people on planet “Z” may solve all their problems or complete their cycle while the Splitteri on planet “A” reads his book. Meanwhile, the fly will land on Splitteri’s knee. He will hit it with the magazine and throw the body into the fireplace.

Now, the extreme importance of this future situation becomes clear. To which planet do we, the writer and reader, belong? If it’s planet “A” nothing changes. If it’s planet “Z”, the destruction of the human race is likely imminent.

There’s nothing we can do to answer the question except wait for the evening of October 12th.

I hope this summary of “What Will Happen on October 12th?” by Dino Buzzati was helpful.

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